Well it's been exactly 20 days since Tony Parker went down with a severely sprained ankle. Tomorrow will be the 3-week mark. He was already running on the treadmill a week ago, and is now already beginning limited practices. I doubt we'll see him tomorrow night against Utah, but chances are good that my prediction from my last update (back in the lineup by Wednesday, March 27th's game against Denver) will happen. And we may even get him one game sooner than that!
Here is the same schedule I posted for that last update, but this time I've written in the results since that update:
Mine / schedule source
So 6-2 without our leader? Nothing wrong with that, I say. Especially if you consider the following:
Admittedly, we did not play well in that game vs. Minnesota, and they just flat-out wanted it more. Of course when you shoot 35%, you're not gonna win very many - if any - NBA basketball games. But in the Portland game, we actually played pretty well. Shot 52%, had only 12 turnovers, and still had an almost-acceptable 22 assists on 44 FGs. But Portland shot the lights out (62%). Soon-to-be rookie of the year Damian Lillard was practically unstoppable in the 4th quarter, and they're fighting for their playoff lives. I believe they will make it, but that's another blog post.
Anyway to continue my point, we've won a few ugly games in the span as well, as our defense has been questionable lately. Those who have stood in for Tony have done a great job on the offensive side, but Tony's value on the defensive end is becoming very evident. Most importantly, however, is that we won the one game we needed the most - OKC. The Thunder have also helped matters by losing twice since their loss in San Antonio.
Our lead over OKC now stands at 2½, with Memphis, the Clippers, and Denver ALL 5½ back. Look at this way: The Heat have won 24 in a row, and they're still only 2½ games ahead of us.